Monday, May 20, 2013

Good Bye Google Reader, Hello Microsoft Outlook

I’ve been using Google Reader to display RSS feeds from different sources (blogs, news sites, etc.). It certainly has done its job well. Recently, Google has decided to discontinue Google Reader and it will go offline on 1st July 2013.

Truth be told, there are many alternatives out there that I can use to substitute Google Reader. But for now, I am going to use Microsoft Outlook. It makes sense for me since I already have Microsoft Outlook installed on my computer as part of the Microsoft Office Suite and I have been using Microsoft Outlook on daily basis for a while now. In addition, the RSS feed would appear just like a typical Outlook e-mail message (a format in which I have already familiar with).

To add RSS feed to Microsoft Outlook is pretty straight forward. On the left folder navigation, there should be “RSS Feeds” folder. Right click on that folder and select “Add a New RSS Feed”. Then after that you can enter the link to the RSS subscription that you have. Once done, it would create a new folder and Microsoft Outlook would drop any new feed from that RSS subscription to that new folder. Each RSS subscription would have a different folder.

If you have several RSS subscriptions that you want to import from Google Reader to Microsoft Outlook, you should be able to do that by exporting the data from your Google Reader account by going to Google Takeout. You can just export and download your Google Reader account (in the form of a zip file). Inside that zip file, there should be “Subscriptions.xml” file. Extract that file. Then, in Microsoft Outlook, right click on “RSS Feeds” folder, and select “Import an OPML file”. When given the chance, select the XML file that you have extracted. Microsoft Outlook should be able to read the XML file and list the subscriptions that you have in Google Readers. It would also allow you to select which RSS subscription that you want to add in Microsoft Outlook.

I must admit that Microsoft Outlook lacks the features that Google Reader have. For one, in Google Reader, when you enter it, you can see the new RSS feeds from all your subscription in one page (Google Reader was able to aggregate the RSS feeds). In addition, you can organize your RSS subscriptions very easily in Google Reader. These features just don’t seems to be there in Microsoft Outlook (at least as far as I am aware of).

Google Reader is in the “cloud”. So as long as you have access to a compatible browser and the Internet, you can access your RSS subscriptions easily. With Microsoft Outlook, currently you will be limited to your local computer, where you have Microsoft Outlook installed and the RSS subscription(s) setup. Unless, if you are using Microsoft Exchange hosted e-mail. In that case, you might be able to see your RSS subscription(s) from web mail as well. Just be aware that the RSS feeds might be counted against your Exchange mailbox size quota.

Microsoft Outlook as RSS reader certainly has its limitations compared to Google Reader. However, for now, it satisfies my need as a simple and easy to use RSS reader (at least until I find a better one).

Additional Notes:

Alternatively, instead of Microsoft Outlook, you can also use Windows Live Mail (you might also need to have Windows Live Account), which is part of the Windows Essentials and its free.

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